Friday, February 29, 2008

On Fish

B-mama brought up a great question about fish and mercury levels during pregnancy. Many pregnant women are nervous about fish and so they don't eat it during pregnancy, and many don't eat it at all, which is a huge shame because fish has so many beneficial omega fatty acids that are not found in other foods--fatty acids that are very beneficial for a developing baby--maybe better than mad-cow beef. Most health care providers give women a list of fish known to be high in mercury (large fish that live in the ocean for a long time). For mercury levels of various fish see this chart. Personally, I would avoid fish on the top of this list or have them no more than once per month during pregnancy and with small children. All other fish, especially those low in mercury, can be consumed regularly. Tilapia is a favorite in our house because it is relatively inexpensive and fairly tasty. I'd recommend buying fresh fish, not frozen, because I find that frozen fish can be mushy and taste, well...gross. We try to eat fish on Fridays. DH doesn't like fish very much, so eating fish for dinner on Fridays is a real sacrifice for him, but the kids love it. I think serving it regularly really helps them think it is "normal" to eat fish, and the texture seems easier for them to like and chew than meat.
**This picture is not meant to promote dolphin consumption


jawats said...

The other alternative, though it's not as good as eating fish, is to take Omega Complex supplements which have had any mercury removed. If a woman is particularly concerned, this is a consideration.

Anonymous said...

OH M: Ladies: Let me share the best way to cook fresh brussel sprouts. Clean, trim if necessary and then cut an X shape into the base of each. Steam until al dente, or preferred doneness. Then saute in some no-fat butter spray until golden. YUM!

Mary Alice said...

Thanks for this, I was on a big serve fish once a week kick for a while, but we were eating frozen and I found it very inconsistent, sometimes great, sometimes mushy. I thought that the problem was my cooking, but I am going to try again with fresh fish. Now, how to work that in to my marketing, I might have to serve fish on Saturday nights since I shop that day, but we usually do pizza (either Amy's or homemade) on meatless Fridays.

Can you put up a few easy, kid friendly recipes when you have a chance?

Mad Cow said...

Fish is good.

Mad Cow

texas mommy said...

We love fish of all stripes in the Incredible family...goldfish, pretzel fish and real fish. Dash actually took to fish much more readily than meat when he was under1. We usually do fish once a week, preferrably on fridays (I have been contemplating going meatless on Fridays throughout the year, but did not get a positive response when I brought up the issue with Mr. Incredible.). If I had an unlimited budget, we would eat fresh fish more often.

I am happy to eat fish (like tilapia) broiled with a bit of olive oil and garlic salt. But if your kids are put off by the taste of fish rather than the texture, sauces and preparation are key.

We love baked salmon with pesto and parmesan on top. By the way, there is a HUGE tast difference b/w farm raised and wild salmon. Costco has some excellent Copper River salmon in their frozen food section. It is more expensive than their sides of salmon, but tastes a million times better.

My kids will also eat canned light tuna, though, after living in Italy, I think the oil packed tastes much better. Since I struggle to keep on weight when nursing, I do have the luxury of choosing the higher fat/calories, better taste option. Man, I am going to be in for a shock after child bearing years when my metabolism slows down. I add the tuna to pasta or quesidillas sometimes.

Lightly sauteing fish is also fairly easy and healthy. Soak in milk and roll in cornmeal mixture (you can buy or make your own with cornmeal and lots of spices). Satuees quickly b/c filets are so thin. You can also cut these into strips and make fish tacos.

Sometimes cheese and fish go well together. My fav is seabass over sauteed eggplant with melted smoked mozzerlla on top.

I don't know how "kid-friendly" these are since I don't have picky eaters. As always, I let Dash help as much as he can!

Juris Mater said...

If the Mad Cows are eating fish these days, then at least I can get a little Omega mixed in with my diseased beef. Thanks, Mad Cow. Thanks for all you do to serve the health of my family.

Right Said Red said...

Some simple fish recipes:

Baked Tilapia sprinkled with olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, salt, pepper (and possibly lemon juice), serve with brown rice...or to spice things up, sautéed garlic and crushed tomatoes (from can), sautéed garlic and spinach, serve fish over spinach and pour tomatoes on top...the more garlic the better! You can also use this recipe with Halibut (delicious but expensive!)

Pan Fried Tilapia --dip in egg and then dip in breading (any kind), fry in hot pan with olive or canola oil. Serve with grain and veggie

Mahi-Mahi--works great in Asian style dishes. I like to marinate it in citrus/braggs marinade (fresh orange, braggs, garlic, and honey), serve with veggie and brown rice

Grilled Swordfish--one of my FAVORITE meals, but also high in mercury so we eat only once very other month (Joe likes this too because swordfish is more like a steak). Salt/pepper/olive oil/lemon then grill.

Mad Cow said...

Juris Mater,

I should have been clearer. I've never eaten fish, but I hear it's good. I only eat animal remains and grains mixed with fecal matter.

Sorry for the confusion.

Mad Cow

Anonymous said...

Texasmommy--I'm a native Texan & my own Mr. Incredible warmed up to fish every Friday when I started putting chipotle powder on it (usually tilapia), served with lime.

Also, stir-frying some bell peppers in the pan first and then going either tex-mex, Asian, or Italian works well. Bell peppers with garlic, capers, artichoke hearts, and gobs of lemon juice over fish is a classic Sicilian dish, and great.

Also, fish did wonders for my "morning" sickness that lasted 14 hrs. a day.

Juris Mater said...

Mad Cow,

So that’s how they fattened you up so quickly? I don’t suppose you stumbled upon that cuisine while peacefully grazing in open, green pastures. But for $1.99 per pound, what hungry American belly can resist you, tossed into the skillet with a hearty $1 box of Hamburger Helper potion?

Meatless Fridays year-round are sounding better and better.

B-Mama said...

Oh my gosh, I can't wait to cook fish with all of these awesome recommendations! You all are incredible!!! Thanks for helping to expand my kitchen and palate.

I realize most of my mercury fears are related to excessive levels of merc. in higher food chain catch, like shark, swordfish, etc. Keeping to the lower level fishies def. helps to reduce mercury concerns.

Mary Alice said...

We had good luck tonight with a very simple salmon recipe -- the toddlers would not eat it, but the big kids liked it with the addition of the relish, which they compared to ginger snaps. The recipe was from this month's cooks illustrated. Also, could not have been easier! I am going to try to continue with fish saturday night so that I can buy fresh when I grocery shop, then serve a big meaty roast or steak Sunday night, good to feast then, and those two night are the nights that Dad is home for dinner, no fun to experiment with recipes when the kids are the only ones eating. I also think I need to view presenting fish regularily the way I view presenting vegetables, just keep exposing them, figure out what they like and do that more often, etc. So here is what I did:

Salmon (farm raised, fresh, not "previously frozen") I bought a large fillet and cut it into three even pieces so that they would cook in about the same amount of time.

Line a baking sheet with foil and put it in the oven on the bottom rack. Heat the oven to 500. When oven is to temp, remove baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then place salmon skin side down on pan, drizzle pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven and turn oven down to 275. Cook until 125 degrees, mine took about 13 mins.

mix together:

4 tangerines (i used 2 oranges), skin removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1.5 tsp grated fresh ginger
sqeeze lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 scallion, sliced thin (I omitted)

We served with "seeds of change" quinoa blend, which was yummy, and salad with olive oil/braggs vinegar/honey mustard dressing.

Right Said Red said...

I love the recipe suggestions. Keep them coming!

Melinda said...


Salmon glazed with a little mango-ginger chutney (from Trader Joe's of course, but there are others) is super easy and my family loves it.

B-mama, here is the carrot muffin recipe:

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups corn oil (I used canola)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (it was about 5 carrots for me)
2 4 oz jars of carrots (baby food)
about a cup of raisins

Bake 22 minutes at 350. Makes 24 muffins.

The original recipe called for 2 3/4 cups sugar. I keep reducing it and it keeps being good... you can try even less than 1 1/2 cups if you want!

B-Mama said...

Thanks Melinda!
Can't wait to try these out... They sound yummy!

Juris Mater said...


I confess... I am the queen of failed healthy baking attempts. We love baking, and we love healthy eating, but rarely have I found a recipe that legitimately combines the two.

These are seriously mindboggling. You cannot taste the whole wheat (I used white whole wheat flour). They are super-sweet for the small amount of sugar (I used raw sugar). I also substituted 4 oz of apple sauce for one of the 4 oz of baby foot carrots b/c I didn't believe that it would really turn out good, but it would have turned out great with both packages of carrots.

Moreover... Melinda, girl, these muffins provided my family a complete Montessori experience. Bella was grating carrots (a new skill) and pouring ingredients while snacking on whole carrots; Bean was scooping pureed carrots and applesauce between containers while eating them. Our muffin baking trailed off into a whole morning of pretend baking with applesauce and raisins in their pretend kitchen.

Maria Montessori, eat your heart out in every way. These are totally healthy, taste incredible and were a fantastic activity for toddlers.

AWOL Mommy said...

Beautiful, wonderful muffins. We even cut the oil to 1 Cup and they are fabulous. Also, I learned that, as a mother, I am not above putting chocolate chips in anything. My 3 year old was allowed six muffins with which to do as she pleased. When I asked her what that would be she replied, " CHOCOLATE CHIPS!" Complete with giddy jumping. So hers have chips on the top and she guzzles these little whole wheat carrot gems. Ha, tricked her again.